France braces for widespread strike to demand more purchasing power

© AFP - CHRISTOPHE ARCHAMBAULT

Transport, schools and public services across France face widespread disruption Thursday as unions call for a day of strikes to protest pension reforms and the cost of living crisis.

More than 200 demonstrations planned as the CGT, FSU, Solidaires unions and several youth organisations rally under the banner “increase wages, not the retirement age".

In the face of inflation, pressure is mounting in many companies to secure pay rises.

The first interprofessional day of action since school returned after the summer break is urging an increase to the minimum wage, unemployment benefits and salary parity, among other things.

Multiple sectors affected

SNCF railway employees have been asked to join, increasing the chance of train cancellations. Updated timetables will be available from Wednesday evening.

Some truck drivers and maritime workers will be downing tools, as will some creche workers and kindergarten and primary school teachers.

Healthcare workers are planning to work but not to walk off the job.

Some refinery workers employed by TotalEnergies will strike to demand salary increases as well as the “unfreezing of hiring” and “a massive investment plan”.

Not all unions are joining the strike movement though, with notable absences including France’s largest union, the CFDT, the Force Ouvrière and Unsa unions.